[Civil Affairs] Missions of the 29th ID - Omaha Beach

The 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division was chosen for a dangerous but honorable mission in mid-1944. They were going to be a part of a huge invasion into France. They were to form the first assault wave of the initial invasion. You'd imagine giving this important task to a group of men who were prepared for situations like this; however, this was not the case. The 29th Infantry Division was not very well trained for this mission. The unit was comprised mostly of soldiers from the National Guard, which was an Army corps that was rarely or even never used during frontal assaults. This did not phase command, however, they knew that the unit was at odds from the beginning.

The planned landing beach was code-named Omaha Beach. The 29th Infantry Division was tasked with leading the frontal assault from the western side of the beach. They were to push the western side with the 1st Infantry Division supporting their right flank. The initial assault was scheduled for the dawn of June 6, 1944. The night before the invasion was the longest and coldest night for the soldiers hitting the beach the following day. Reports indicate that some soldiers had blank stares in their faces, as if they were not really there. As the soldiers prepared themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually, the thought of death loomed over them all. As the sun began to rise, the soldiers looked off into the distances, glaring at the beaches to where they were ordered to attack and possibly die. Dawn broke. After a violent bombardment of the German machine gun positions by Allied ships, the soldiers entered their landing crafts. At 0630 hours, on D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in human history began. The men of the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division headed towards Omaha Beach with one goal: secure the beach.

Upon landing, the men of the first assault wave were greeted with very deadly and accurate fire from the German positions that were left untouched from the violent bombardment from the Allied ships. The situation became more deadly as time passed. As more and more men were landed onto the beach, the scene got more chaotic. With hundreds of men packed into tight sections of the beach with little to no cover, casualties began to escalate at a terrifying level. Although sustaining horrific casualties, the men of the unit had no choice but to keep pushing up the beach. Little by little, the men of the 29th Infantry Division slowly gained more ground on the beach. They were eventually able to push onto the sea wall which was 200 yards from the shore. Throughout the morning, hundreds of men were killed until they were able to capture the German positions. The Americans continued to push the Germans back off the beach until they had created a perimeter around the beachhead. The Americans had succeeded in capturing Omaha Beach but at a heavy cost. America took over 2,400 casualties on this beach alone, making it the deadliest beach on D-Day. The casualties were especially heavy for the 29th Infantry Division, with over 300 men killed and losing 11 of its 12 tanks before they even made to the beach. Shortly after securing the beachhead, the men of the 116th Infantry Regiment were given a new mission. They were ordered to rescue the stranded rangers at Pointe Du Hoc.

Written by: Cpl. Robles
Edited by: Cpl. Langford and T/5 Dethfield
Approved by: CoCA and Bn. S1

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